School of Rock’s Brian Falduto Goes Country and Answers the Socialite Seven
The name may not be familiar, but you may remember Brian Falduto from the classic comedy School of Rock, where he played Billy, a/k/a Fancy Pants.
From reel life to real life, Brian has transformed into the bonafide country star he always dreamed he would be. On March 10, Brian released his debut album Gay Country—an 8-track LP honoring the classic 90s/early 2000s sounds of country music, that’s long been missing. Gay Country is an anthemic, playful and heartfelt album that further cements Brian as a queer country artist that deserves your attention.
Gay Country features the viral lead single “Same Old Country Love Song” which received TikTok love from School of Rock co-star Jack Black (1.3M views), and influencer Tate Hoskins (1.5M views). Throughout the album, Brian pays homage to the country stars of his youth including Dolly Parton, Faith Hill, Carrie Underwood, Shania Twain, Rascal Flatts, The Chicks and more. He describes the album concept as a return to the past—a sound we used to know and love—just gay.
Brian says, “Country music has always been my heart and soul, ever since I was a little kid. I’m really proud of what I’ve done here. I am loving all the new and exciting sounds that are out there these days, particularly much of what’s coming from emerging queer artists who are pushing the envelope. But with this project, I wanted to return to the classic 90’s/early 2000’s vibe that ‘little me’ used to bop around to but could never quite see himself in. I’ve always wondered what it would have been like if smack dab in the middle of the latest Tim McGraw and Jo Dee Messina hits, a song came on the radio that normalized who I was. I hope ‘Gay Country’ provides some joy, some laughter, and some sense of belonging to those who need it most. If nothing else, it’s certainly done so for the little kid inside of me.”
He goes on to say, “Even as recently as four years ago, I was really unclear about my identity as an artist in the country lane. I knew that I would never deny being gay for the sake of being a successful country music artist but I simultaneously felt as though I had to be careful how I presented myself. How much of my queerness would be acceptable amongst the audience I’m trying to reach? I found familiarity in navigating what might be too much or too little because that’s what I used to do when I was younger to survive. Thanks to continual internal work and the external influence of trailblazers like Kacey Musgraves, Orville Peck, Lil Nas X, TJ Osbourne, Brandi Carlile and Ty Herndon, I now know what’s possible in this genre–and in life– when you put the rule book down for a minute and dare to be yourself boldly. I refuse to play a game I wasn’t picked for or follow a formula that wasn’t built for me.”
From overcoming the challenges of child star fame to rediscovering himself as an adult, Brian is excited to continue achieving country accolades with love, passion and empathy. He says, “I think this album is a testament to who I am now in that I was able to let myself just have fun with it because I’m finally grounded in who I am. There is an undeniable fulfillment I get from telling my stories through song. I hope Gay Country can offer a space for fellow queer country fans to connect with themselves…and each other!”
We had the chance to chat with Brian and put him in the hot seat for the Socialite Seven. Get to know this rising country star!
When did you know that you wanted to become a singer?
Oh gosh, I just think I always knew. According to my mom’s baby book, it says “Age 2: Brian won’t stop singing. Age 3: Brian won’t stop singing and dancing.” As soon as I had a Walkman, I’d put my headphones in and strut around the house or the yard singing at the top of my lungs and imagining myself in performance mode. It wouldn’t have been unlike me to halt family dinners for a between-course karaoke moment. I started taking voice lessons when I was nine. I’ve either always loved attention or I’ve just always had a song in me that needed to be let out. Probably both, if I’m being honest.
Who has had the biggest influence on your music and why?
Probably Shania Twain…I also often refer to myself as the gay Jo Dee Messina. If we’re looking at the music I’ve been releasing as of late, these two ladies feel like the most direct influences. The way they blend cheeky lyrics and catchy melodies packaged up with clever instrumentations & a fierce delivery…that’s what I’m trying to do anyway. This isn’t uniquely the type of music I write or listen to but it’s certainly the vibe of my debut album Gay Country!
Who (if anyone) would you love to collaborate with?
I’d love to collaborate with Orville Peck! I mean, he’s just crushing it as a queer country artist and I think we could do something interesting together vocally, plus writing/arranging with him seems like it’d be a cool experience.
What type of music or artist that you listen to frequently do you think your fans would be surprised to learn that you’re a fan of?
I’m so into MUNA right now. They’re really hitting the spot these days. I’d love to venture into the style of music they’re creating one day.
What are you hoping to achieve with your music?
This album was the first time I let myself have fun with two things I love dearly: country music and being gay. I spent a long time believing those two things couldn’t coexist but I’m here to tell the world that they can! I’m hoping this project can help provide a sense of belonging to those in the queer community who’ve previously felt left out by country music.
What are three things you can’t live without?
Meditation, friendships, and Cheez-Its!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
You will always be enough if you show up as yourself because you are the only you. It’s sort of the philosophy behind Anthony Meindl’s Actor Workshop, of which I’ve been a long-time student, and the lens through which I share my art and my stories.
Gay Country is now available wherever you get your music. Keep up with Brian on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Spotify and YouTube.